Silver medallist at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games in the Women’s Pairs, bowler Kay Moran repeated that achievement at Gold Coast 2018, as she took Scotland’s first ever Women’s Triples medal alongside Stacey McDougall and Caroline Brown.
Now resident in Australia, Kay has won Australian Open and New Zealand Open titles, as well as taking gold in the Pairs at the Australian Championships. We caught up with her for our Sport Focus series to hear about her Commonwealth Games career and the differences in the sport ‘Down Under’.
How old were you and how did you get started in bowls?
I was 12 years old and dragged along by my dad as they needed kids for the Junior section of our club. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the sport!
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
In Britain it was Sarah Gourlay, as she was the most caring Manager of our Commonwealth Games team, understanding how individuals worked and allowed us to be ourselves within a team environment. In Australia it has been Karen Murphy, as she has helped me adapt to the Australian style of game, which is different from the British game due to the differing conditions.
What stage of your career were you at when you were selected for your first Commonwealth Games? What are your memories from those Games?
I had been in the Elite Squad for five years before I made my first Commonwealth Games in 2006. It was a good time for me to be given the opportunity as I had become comfortable being part of a strong team, I felt confident in my ability and was ready to take on the challenge. I remember feeling like I had entered another world when we went into the village in Melbourne, it’s just indescribable the excitement of being part of such an important event. It allows you to focus completely on the job at hand and everything you could possibly need is there at your fingertips. I was so proud to be part of the Scottish Team, a defining moment for me.
You won silver in Melbourne with Joyce Lindores, who sadly passed away in 2017. What are your memories of Joyce and what did she bring to the sport and to the team?
Joyce was one of a kind. When we played together we were very close, she helped bring out the best in me and was a fantastic skipper to have on your side. She was an unconscious comedian, caring, one of the best bowlers I’d ever seen and willing to share her wisdom freely with me.
She could be very black and white in that, if she respected you as a bowler she treated you well and, if not, then she wasn’t so generous with her patience. She told it like it was and had a strong will which contributed to her being such a great competitor. She could single handedly save team matches on her own, a true superstar of the game. She brought fierce passion to the game, intensity and honesty. She was a great leader and an anchor of any team. A joy to play with in my eyes and a big influence for me. I remember her with happy memories.
How did the experience of your second Games in Gold Coast differ from Melbourne? What did it mean to win another medal for Team Scotland?
Gold Coast was different as in Melbourne I was close to 30 years younger than my team mates and this time I was by far the oldest team member. It was another great experience getting the chance to pull on the Scottish jersey, which has more meaning when living abroad. It was a much more relaxed team atmosphere with younger players involved and I was lucky enough to have Sarah Gourlay’s son, David Gourlay, as my manager this time. David is similar in nature to Sarah, understanding we are all different and have our own ways to be at our best. To win another medal was fantastic. I knew we had a great team and we just had to put it all together to have success. Great experience and one I won’t forget.
You now live in Australia. What prompted the move, what are you currently doing and how does the bowls culture differ between Scotland and Australia?
I moved here in 2008 as I could see the opportunities for bowlers were far greater in this country. I am now a Bowls Coordinator at a local bowling club which allows me to coach bowls, manage social bowls, competitions and tournaments. The culture here is different as I would say it’s more competitive with more members and more young players in the game. Bowlers here want to be the best they can be and are willing to train and engage coaching on a regular basis. We also have moved forward in bowling attire, being more fashion focused, so it doesn’t have the same image as back home. There is a push to modernise the formats of games to short, sharp and inviting to non bowlers, helping shake off the old image. The clubs here are quite commercial, therefore don’t have to rely on volunteers and have full time professionals to run everything.
You would have been preparing for the World Championships that have now been postponed to next year. How are you dealing with the current situation and how are you staying prepared for when sport resumes?
I am honestly enjoying the rest from bowls and focusing on my fitness for the time being. I will give myself a plan for starting again, which may be quite soon over here, and see it as an opportunity to be hungry for the sport when it reopens.
Birmingham 2022 is just two years away, is this in your plans and if so what are your ambitions for the next few years?
Bowls is a sport that playing in conditions that are similar to competition conditions is a big advantage hence why it was good to have me in the team for the Australian based events. Now that I won’t be playing on British conditions regularly I think that the team will be chosen from people playing in Britain and understandably so. I think I’ll be hanging up my representative jersey and more than happy to be cheering from the other side of the world.